Department of English Professor Makes New York Times Best Sellers List
- Jessica Luna
- Wednesday, December 14th, 2022
Dr. David Bell, Professor and Interim Director for the M.F.A. Creative Writing program in the Department of English at WKU, has made the New York Times Young Adult Paperback Best Sellers List with his newest novel, She’s Gone.
The novel follows 17-year-old Hunter Gifford as he navigates being suspected of the disappearance and murder of his girlfriend, Chloe Summers, after a horrific car accident. While Dr. Bell has written 13 novels, this is his first in the young adult genre.
“I had no idea when I first started writing this story that it would be a young adult novel,” says Bell. “I was just trying something and wasn’t sure if it was going to work. The challenge of writing a whole book from the perspective of a teenager was a very different experience, but I really enjoyed it.”
Thematically, this novel is categorized as a suspenseful coming-of-age tale. Most of the characters grapple with social pressures and family dynamics, while also traversing the uncertainty and doubt that comes with a murder accusation. There is also a love story aspect to the novel, as the two main characters are in a committed relationship.
“The main character, Hunter, is suspected of killing his girlfriend. While that is awful to happen at any age, it is especially awful as a teenager because you are even further ostracized,” says Bell. “When writing this story, I reflected on my experiences as a teenager and drew upon my own feelings of being overwhelmed and feeling like an outcast during that period in my life.”
While this novel is a young adult novel, its themes will resonate with any age group. Bell notes that it will be “nostalgic for adults and relatable for teens”. The popular true-crime genre is also present in the novel, as Hunter’s childhood best friend, Daniel, starts filming a documentary after Hunter is accused of Chloe’s murder.
“I have always been fascinated with true-crime and mystery stories,” says Bell. “When I was watching the news as a child, I would get both terrified and fascinated by people disappearing. There is a whole life and story behind that.”
There are currently no plans for a sequel to the novel. However, Bell is not opposed to revisiting the story further down the road if inspiration strikes him. He also hopes that someone will be interested in adapting his novel into a film or television show.
When asked about advice for young writers, Dr. Bell recommends patience and lots of reading. He remarks that some of his favorite authors like Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, Mary Higgins Clark, and Stephen King helped him figure out how storytelling worked.
“When you read a lot, you absorb how stories work and how they are told,” says Bell. “However, be patient. More often than not, it takes people a while to become an accomplished writer. When you are ready to write, try to write a story that you would love to read. Don’t imitate someone else.”
She’s Gone is available online and in person wherever books are sold. Visit davidbellnovels.com for more information.